PARIS, France, May 21 – Paris Saint-Germain did not waste time turning the page on Unai Emery’s time in charge, and the arrival of the fresh-faced Thomas Tuchel marks the start of a new era.
Less than 24 hours after Emery bowed out as the Ligue 1 champions played out a soporific goalless draw in Caen without a host of their biggest names, Tuchel appeared at the Parc des Princes for the first time.
The German looked confident and relaxed as he was unveiled to the French media and then photographed on the pitch on a perfect Parisian spring evening.
After a year out following his departure from Borussia Dortmund, where he won the 2017 German Cup, the 44-year-old was linked to the Premier League. But he was clearly seduced by the French capital.
“This is Paris, it’s magnificent, the city of love, the city of light. It is a romantic city and a city for adventure,” he said.
“I would love our supporters to fall in love with the team and that the brightest players play here.”
Tuchel spoke mainly in excellent English, but he showed a willingness to speak in French and a grasp of the language that his predecessor never reached in his two years in charge.
Emery won seven out of eight domestic trophies in his time at the helm, but his credit expired with Champions League exits against Barcelona and Real Madrid in the last 16.
– No promises –
Tuchel’s own experience of the highest level is limited, meaning many were surprised by his appointment. And he was not in the mood for making promises.
“It’s too early to talk about it,” said the German, who will not officially start work until pre-season training begins in early July.
“Of course we have the most exciting players, we are one of the biggest clubs in one of the most exciting cities, and this attracts the best players.
“But to be in the end where everybody wants to be, it’s not about talking before the first training session has happened or the first game is played.
“I want to have an atmosphere where a Cup game is on the same level as a Champions League game.
“You cannot predict the results, so it makes no sense to talk too early, but if you ask me in spring I will tell you very clearly if we are ready or not.”
Tuchel has admitted his admiration for Pep Guardiola, although he insisted he would impose his own style in Paris.
He will wait anxiously in the hope that UEFA do not complicate his task by imposing sanctions for potential breaches of their Financial Fair Play rules.
And he will hope that rumours over Neymar’s possible departure after just one injury-hit season prove to be nothing more than that.
In any case, Tuchel is in no doubt his limited track record will not prevent him from settling into a dressing room of stars, from the world’s most expensive player to Kylian Mbappe, Thiago Silva and Marco Verratti.
“I am not afraid at all of stars because in my experience they are the hardest workers and know exactly what it takes to be successful.
“I am very happy to have the opportunity now to win titles with this kind of team.”
At home, PSG’s main rivals next season will be the same.
Lyon and Monaco are boosted enormously by qualifying directly for the Champions League group stage, while Marseille will hope to be stronger again after falling just short, coming fourth in the league and losing the Europa League final.
It remains to be seen how quickly Tuchel settles, but his side will be clear favourites to dominate in France again next season.
He will not be as relaxed as this, though, if he oversees another poor showing in Europe.